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TO: Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General
FROM: Lauren Henrie and Jonathan Giese, Institutional Climate Action UW
DATE: 5 January 2022
REG: The University of Washington’s Career and Internship Center and the Fossil Fuel Industry
The Career and Internship Center should amend their Employer User Policy to prohibit companies in the fossil fuel industry from recruiting on campus nor using the Center’s services in any capacity to engage with students. The Attorney General’s office should approve this amendment for the safety of UW students. Furthermore, the Center should issue a public statement notifying employers of this change and directing employers with existing relationships to the Center to disclose their status in relation to the fossil fuel industry. More thorough vetting of companies is needed with concern for violations of worker safety, federal convictions for illegal corporate behavior, and effects on the health and safety of the general population.

The fossil fuel industry, and the people running it, have shown through significant evidence that they do not value truth, morality, or justice, and will work to harm the Earth and human livelihood all for the sake of profit and power. The fossil fuel industry and those in power within it, have exhibited and continue to exhibit morally reprehensible behavior. It is utmost imperative that the University of Washington severs all ties with the fossil fuel industry, immediately.
The fossil fuel industry is morally reprehensible; the University of Washington’s Board of Regents supports this claim through their unanimous vote to divest from the industry. Yet, the University of Washington’s Career and Internship Center has no policy in place to ban the fossil fuel industry. This lack of policy aids and abets in the industry’s injurious behavior by providing the industry with access to a new talent pool and promoting careers within the fossil fuel industry to UW students.
The following background is meant to provide a brief overview of the extensive, immoral damage to the environment caused by the fossil fuel industry. It is merely a fraction of the justification to our claim and peeks into why UW should not encourage students to pursue careers in the fossil fuel industry.

Leaders within the fossil fuel industry have known for almost half a century that the burning of fossil fuels would change the Earth’s climate at an unprecedented rate (Hall, 2015). Rather than prevent the climate crisis, those within the industry choose instead to spread misinformation and manufacture climate denial, all with the ambition of turning a profit and keeping their industry alive. The fossil fuel industry has spent billions in order to mislead Americans and continues to do so (Westervelt, 2019).

The leaders of the fossil fuel industry lied and created plastics recycling, knowing that the recycling of plastics would never be economically viable. They marketed plastics, a byproduct of oil, as a necessary part of American life. They used recycling as a tool to place the blame of pollution and environmental degradation on individual consumers, rather than take responsibility for the mass production of and escalation of environmental issues created by plastic. Less than 10% of all plastics ever created has been recycled (Sullivan, 2020). The vast majority of plastic ends up in landfills or the ocean. A portion is incinerated (Cho, 2017).

As our world changes, their tactics shift–what was once television ads and print newspaper spreads in the 1980s is now misinformation disguised as Google search results and secret campaigns to elect judges to courts where cases are supplemented with erroneous amicus briefs (Supran & Oreskes, 2021; McIntyre, 2022; Lerner, 2022; Westervelt, 2022). The industry spends more money marketing a “clean energy transition” than actually moving towards it, all while increasing fossil fuel production (Yoder, 2022).

Furthermore the extraction of oil and natural gas can cause immense harm to soil, water, and air, which in turn impacts human health and wellbeing. For the purposes of this memo and brevity, the vast horrors and tragedies of pollution caused by the fossil fuel industry are not detailed, nor are the impacts of the climate crisis. We are working with the assumption that the horror of these issues (and their notable classism and racism) are understood by our audience, but if we are mistaken and a deeper investigation of these topics is requested, those of us at Institution Climate Action UW will provide one.

The fossil fuel industry has knowingly lied to the American public and spent billions on marketing to cover up the massive harm they cause.
Job security within the fossil fuel industry is low, and employment is unreliable.

The Fossil Fuel Industry knew about climate change 45 years ago, years before the general public, and used that knowledge to spread climate misinformation and denialism. (Hall, 2015) (Westervelt, 2019)
Fossil Fuel firms are now among the biggest spenders on Google Ads that appear like search results to mislead the public and spread disinformation (McIntyre, 2022).
The Fossil Fuel Industry promoted plastics recycling while knowing that it would never be economically viable in order to: make consumers feel like environmental action was an individual responsibility; stop the American public from pressuring the industry to take responsibility for the industries environmental harm; rebrand and re-market plastic in a positive light; and continue to sell plastic (a byproduct of oil) and profit from that sale. (Sullivan, 2020)
Companies within the fossil fuel industry promote clean solutions, yet spend more money on the marketing of those solutions than on the solutions themselves. While they market clean solutions, they continue to extract fossil fuels at an accelerating rate (Yoder, 2022).
Job Security within the Fossil Fuel Industry is statistically lower than other industries (Aronoff, 2021).
Human health suffers due to fracking (a method of extracting oil and gas) which contaminates groundwater and pollutes air (Fecht, 2022).
Cho, R. (2017, November 27). What happens to all that plastic? State of the Planet. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from
Fecht, S. (2022, December 3). Community-led science uncovers high air pollution from fracking in Ohio County. State of the Planet. Retrieved January 5, 2023, from
Hall, S. (2015, October 26). Exxon knew about climate change almost 40 years ago. Scientific American. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from
Lerner, S. (2022, June 30). How Charles Koch purchased the Supreme Court's EPA decision. The Intercept. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from
McIntyre, N. (2022, January 5). Fossil fuel firms among biggest spenders on google ads that look like search results. The Guardian. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from
Sullivan, L. (2020, September 11). How big oil misled the public into believing plastic would be recycled. NPR. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from
Supran , G., & Oreskes, N. (2021, November 18). The forgotten oil ads that told us climate change was nothing. The Guardian. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from
Westervelt, A. (2019, January 12). Perspective | how the fossil fuel industry got the media to think climate change was debatable. The Washington Post. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from
Westervelt, A. (2022, June 7). False friends of the court: Why every rightwing think tank has an amicus program, with senator Whitehouse. Drilled. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from
Yoder, K. (2022, March 3). The massive disconnect between Big Oil's words and actions, in Data. Grist. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from
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